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KUSP: Luciano Rodriguez Lights the Fire Within

What’s up with the fixie rider?

That’s Luciano Rodriguez, one of Monterey County’s most eclectic cyclists. And his passion for biking and heart for youth has resulted in a prestigious award.

KUSP, Central Coast Public Radio‘s “First Person Singular” told the story during “Morning Edition” and again during “All Things Considered” on 10/10/12.

Missed the broadcast?

Listen to the two-minute audio:

  Click here for KUSP file on Luciano Rodriguez.

Thank you to producer Guy Lasnier of KUSP for providing this audiofile.

Luciano’s daughter and his wife were on hand 9/11/11 at the Monterey County Office of Education in Salinas when Luc received an MCOE “unsung hero” Light the Fire Within award for his work in Alternative Education.

More about Luciano Rodriguez

Luciano is a volunteer teacher at the Monterey County Probation Department Youth Center’s bike repair and safety class (“Getting on the Right Path“).

Luciano, a Salinas native, came to love the challenge of athletics as a sophomore at North Salinas High School, first as a runner completing the Bay to Breakers. After NSHS, he completed the Big Sur Marathon too.  Upon graduation from NSHS, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for five years before his honorable discharge in 2002.

A Marine Corps bonus burned a hole in the pockets of some, but for Luciano, it began a love affair with biking.  His bonus purchased a new Cannondale, and back in Salinas, he signed up to race in his first Sea Otter Classic. He has continued to race Sea Otter, doing so for ten years consecutively by the time he began volunteering as an instructor for the Youth Center class in 2012.  That year, Luciano was a  Category 1 Singlespeed Racer in SOC’s Mountain Bike Cross Country competition. [In 2013, his SOC races included Pro Singlespeed, Circuit, and Cyclocross.] Also in 2012, he took first as a solo rider in the 24 Hour Hammerstein at Mazda Raceway, accompanied to the track by his wife–who praises him for training her as a mountain biker herself–and their daughter.  His pleasure in mountain biking includes riding at times with Monterey Off Road Cycling Association too.

When Luciano began teaching the Youth Center class, he had been working for about five years as an instructional aide and assistant para professional at Rancho Cielo.  That got my attention, because before I learned in October 2011 about the need for a bike class at Monterey County Youth Center, I’d been thinking that bike tech education would make a great addition to Rancho Cielo’s curriculum.  In an initial conversation with an RC staff member, the response was gracious but reserved:  “Most of the kids aren’t in shape for biking, and it’s too hilly here.”  I postponed pursuing the idea.

It’s a good thing that statement wasn’t made to Luciano.  For in 2012, he blazed new trails at Rancho Cielo:  sweet single-track!  With the assistance of volunteers from the Salinas High School Cowboy Racing Mountain Bike Team, who brought rototillers to support Luciano’s initiative, he created a network of trails.  Those new trails were enjoyed by visitors too, for the first time, at Rancho Cielo’s 2nd Annual Family Play Day, September 2, 2012. (To see how the trails began, watch this Youtube about the Rancho Cielo trails from Luciano AKA Mr. Singlespeed.)

And not only are some of the Rancho Cielo students now biking there, it wasn’t long before the first had followed Luciano’s lead and was racing at Sea Otter too!

This North Salinas resident bike commutes to work at Rancho Cielo, and when we met in July 2012 to discuss the Monterey County Youth Center class, we set our meeting location for a HER Helmet Thursdays spot, Red Brick Pizza, in Del Rey Oaks.  Luciano biked over via Highway 68 to meet me–on a very spiffy fixie.

Luciano Rodriguez brings to the Monterey County Youth Center bike class his enthusiasm and skills gained as a bike commuter, Sea Otter racer, endurance cyclist, MTB trail builder, fixie rider, and more.

Want to help Luc expand efforts at Rancho Cielo?

Luciano’s 24-hour bike-a-thon supported Rancho Cielo students in biking, and you can still help. How? Donate bike-related items, or funds to purchase those, to Rancho Cielo Youth Campus.  As of 1/29/13, tubes, tires, and rims are most needed.

Contact Luciano Rodriguez by email ljrodrig [AT]




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